New equipment helps reduce dental waiting times

Jo Stock and Robert Gustaw from Dover dental team

Thanks to dental colleagues at Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT)working with new equipment and in a different way, they are now able to see more patients and to reduce waiting times.

The new equipment results in less aerosol splatter during certain procedures, which in turn, reduces the risk of virus transmission. When the equipment was purchased, aerosol generating procedures carried an increased risk of COVID-19 being passed on and so took up more clinic time. These procedures required an average of 25 minutes of downtime between patients and meant FFP3 masks had to be used.

With the use of the new equipment, the risk is far reduced. Less PPE is needed, fallow time is not necessary and the result is more clinic time and thereby more patient appointments are available.

KCHFT’s Dental Services run clinics across Kent and North East London

Marianne Boniface, Dental Project and Business Management Lead, said: “We made these changes as a reaction to COVID-19 and we now have more appointment availability, as a result.

“Each surgery is slightly different, but with aerosol generating procedures, we would have to leave a room for an average of 25 minutes before we could take another patient, due to air flow. This impacted how many patients we could see.

“Although the new equipment has meant clinicians had to adapt their working methods, it was evident that by doing so, the use of these reduced the need for aerosol generating procedures and increased utilisation of our clinics.”

The changes have resulted in improved access to care, with more appointments available and greater patient choice regarding appointment times and locations.  It has also decreased the number of appointments at which FFP3 masks are required, which is more patient friendly, enabling easier communication.

When the new equipment was rolled out to clinics from May 2021, there was a decrease in the number of appointments where aerosol generating procedures were needed, from 16.9 per cent to 8.4 per cent. Since May 2021, the average utilisation of clinics has increased from 84.7 per cent to 98.1 per cent.

Marianne said: “Using the new equipment reduced the need for fallow time between appointments, thereby increasing the use of clinic space. An additional benefit to the change is that there is less demand for FFP3 masks and long-sleeved gowns, reducing costs.

“We have now rolled this equipment out to all of our clinics to increase appointment availability, which in turn will reduce waiting times for patients.”

KCHFT’s Dental Services runs 17 clinics in both North East London and Kent. It also provides dental services at three prison sites, as well as general dental services.

The dental team used quality improvement (QI) tools to help them. They recorded data from the start and used run charts so they could clearly see the impact of the changes they made. They have recorded their work as a QI flash of brilliance, so it can be shared with others.

(Pictured at top of story are Jo Stock and Robert Gustaw, from KCHFT’s Dover dental team.)

Below is the project team’s work, recorded as a flash of brilliance.

The increasing dental capacity flash of brilliance